Mobile Electricity Demonstration Travels the State

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Vertically Integrated Center for Transformative Energy Research has a new tool to promote K-12 science and engineering education. VICTER’s outreach trailer made its initial voyage on Sept. 6, and demonstrated its experiments to more than 475 students over two days in eastern Arkansas. The trailer will be available to all of VICTER’s partner universities for science camps, tours, campus visits and other outreach efforts.

The Razorback-red outreach trailer is a mobile science exhibit. It houses a Jacob’s Ladder device, which creates a visible electric charge to stimulate discussion about how electricity works; a solar panel unit demonstration (affectionately referred to as the “SPUD” cart) to show students all the steps involved in transforming solar energy into electricity that can be used in the home; and a Faraday coil, provided by Arkansas State University, which uses an electrical current to crush cans.

“The trailer demonstrates electrical energy conversion as a theme: light to electricity, electricity to light, and electricity to electromagnetic force. All of the demos have a ‘wow’ factor and they’re great tools to get students excited about engineering, electricity and solar energy at a young age. We’re very excited about this opportunity to expand our impact,” explained T.A. Walton, VICTER’s diversity outreach director.

VICTER is devoted to exploring new photovoltaic materials and addressing the challenges of packaging these materials and developing the power electronics to connect them to the grid. This center has been established with funds from the National Science Foundation and the Arkansas Science & Technology Authority’s ASSET II Initiative, and is partnership among the University of Arkansas, Arkansas State University, the University of Arkansas at Little Rock and the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff.

The University of Arkansas College of Engineering and the department of electrical engineering have contributed toward the operating expenses of the trailer.

Contacts:

Camilla Medders, director of communications
College of Engineering
(479) 575-5697, camillam@uark.edu

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